After receiving a $2.1 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the University of Minnesota (UMN) School of Nursing has decided to expand their mental health services to underserved parts of the state. UMN will be partnering with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Touchstone Mental Health, and Northern Pines Mental Health Center to train students and provide mental health and primary care to rural areas of the state.

Amy Ward, director of health and initiatives at the Wilder Foundation, tells, “Our goal is to train, mentor and bring along the next generation of mental health professionals who hail from communities that don’t typically get mental health services because they don’t have someone who reflects their culture, language and background.”

In addition to training nursing students, UMN’s mental health initiative will also include training pharmacy, psychiatry, and family nurse practitioner students to breach barriers between disciplines and provide better care overall. Merrie Kaas, nursing professor and project lead at UMN, believes that mental health problems also affect physical health and the ability to reach out for primary care. Therefore, the initiative will aim to increase awareness of a lack of mental health resources across the state and a link between poor primary care and poor mental health.

The initiative will use telehealth technology to support long-distance clinical health care and education, promoting collaboration across the three disciplines. This will allow for more flexible care, especially for clients in urban environments who don’t have access to a clinic.

To learn more about UMN’s initiative to provide mental health services to under-served areas in their state, visit here.

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